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March 17, 2008



I'm ignoring the news stories and reading the raw data. Dr. Lynch, I'm afraid your deductions may be flawed. For example, for Question 12A, "[Since you feel the security situation has gotten better in the past six months,] who do you feel deserves the most credit for this improved security?" "U.S. troops" or "coalition forces" are NOT one of the listed answers, though they may be grouped in the category, "Other" which received the largest number of votes.

One really has to be on the watch for sensationalist editors, especially when it comes to now-dull stories like Iraq.


Re: the demographics: Back in September when AA posted the previous ABC/BBC poll I commented that the methodology appeared to skew towards over-weighting the Sunni Arab (rejectionist) point of view and underweighting the Shia and Kurdish. This is confirmed again by the published methodolgy (http://www.abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/story?id=44439928page=1)that states that the demographic breakdown of respondants in the last three polls was between 30-33% Sunni Arabs, 50% Shia and 15% Kurds. This flies in the face of the Consitutional vote in 2005 and the general election in December 05 (on proportional representation) which showed Sunni Arabs to be between 20 and 22% of the population?

This doesn't invalidate the polls because assumptions can be drawn from the TRENDS from one poll to the next. The big story appears to be that the Sunni population is rapidly recasting its view of the US presence which confirms reporting elsewhere. On virtually every single indicator on questions relating to security, the US presence, attacks on the US etc Iraqi opinion has dramatically turned around since the Surge began to take effect last September when Petraeous appeared before Congress?

What effect is this likely to have on the Democrat presidential candidates withdrawal policies given that 63% of Iraqis do not want the US to withdraw unilaterally?

The other big story out of the poll is the extraordinarinarily right-across-the board support, ie Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, for the Awakening Councils? Perhaps the late Sheikh Abu Risha is due some posthumous credit from the good AA after the derision and drubbing he got back last September and before that?

It was also good to see that support for a united Iraq also increased, also approval of the Iraqi Govt and the much maligned and derided Nuri al-Maliki?


It's a pity this survey does not appear to have asked Iraqis whether they thought it made sense for Americans to mortgage their country's entire foreign and national security policy to an effort to keep Arabs from killing one another. Or if borrowing $9 billion a month from the Chinese central bank to make this effort successful was worth the interest the United States will have to pay on the money.

I have no doubt that someone will attempt to use a survey of Iraqi opinion as a debating point in some discussion connected with the Presidential campaign and filling air time on one of the cable networks. I'd be (mildly) surprised if any of the candidates mentioned it; I'm quite confident that few voters will care.

The Bush admninstration made the decision that the really vital issue facing American foreign policy was the future of one, mid-sized Arab country and its people. Given that assumption, of course a survey of Iraqi public opinion is of great interest. Absent that assumption, it's barely a footnote.


I basically agree with Zathras, and I'm amazed there are still readers who seem to live in la-la land.

Frankly, it really doesn't matter what the opinion polls in Iraq say, or even what the polls in the US say. Our economy is melting down.


Peter H

Regarding the issue of demographics, this is what Anthony Cordesman of CSIS wrote back in October 2007:

There seems to be no official US or Iraqi government “guesstimate” of the country’s Sunni vs. Shiite Arab populations, and no single authoritative source of empirical data on the subject. The most commonly cited estimate is an unsourced reference in the CIA World Factbook...According to the factbook, 60-65 percent of Iraqis are Shiite Muslims, 15-20 percent Kurds and three percent non-Muslims. Although it is not explicitly stated in the CIA Factbook, that leaves room for 12 to 22 percent Sunni Arabs.

While it is not certain what the CIA source is, according to the ABC poll:

“This estimate may derive from a 1988 book, “Iraq: a Country Study” produced by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. This book (pp. 80-81) characterizes data on ethnicity and religious doctrine in Iraq as “not absolutely reliable.” It says, “Officially the government sets the number of Shias at 55 percent. In the 1980s knowledgeable observers began to question this figure, regarding it as low. …a morereasonable estimate of their number would seem to be between 60 and 65 percent.” It adds, “…the Sunni Arabs…constitute a decided
minority of only about 13 percent...” These data also are unsourced. The 60-65 percent Shiite estimate matches that in the CIA World Factbook; the 13 percent Sunni Arab estimate compares to the World Factbook’s unstated range of 12 to 22 percent.”

The August ABC survey found that Iraqis identified themselves as 48 percent Shiite Arab, 33 percent Sunni Arab, 16 percent Kurdish and three percent other D3 Systems reports that its previous surveys found that Shiite Arabs ranged from the high 40s to low 50s, and Sunni Arabs in a range from the high 20s to mid-30s. The 35 percent Sunni Arab estimate in this poll is at the high end of its previous data, but within that range. This poll had more sampling points than any previous individual national study in Iraq by D3/KARL.

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